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Not everyone getting same pay increase

By Staff | Apr 21, 2008

A long awaited 2008 Blue Earth city budget was finally revealed during a special work session last Monday. Most of the meeting’s focus dealt with proposed wage increase recommendations for city employees.

Increases varied greatly from position to position in the proposal presented to the council by city administrator Ben Martig. Martig said increases to most positions were at 2.5 percent, which, after benefits were added in, was close to the three percent proposed earlier.

However, a lot of the wage increases for many of the administrative jobs were much higher than 2.5 percent. Only the city administrator and police chief were at that 2.5 percent increase. One position, the public works director, was at an 18 percent increase on the base salary.

The fitness center director salary increase was even higher at 22.5 percent.

Martig said at the work session that he proposed a 2.5 percent increase for himself, which would increase his base salary from $67,658 to $69,349. When all of the benefits are also figured in, his compensation package will be at $87,018.

“I am a contracted employee,” Martig told the council. “So you can wait on my salary until the contract is renegotiated in the future if you are not comfortable doing it now.”

The police chief’s salary was upped from $27.76 per hour to $28.45, exactly 2.5 percent. That would put it at $59,176 annually ($77,417 after benefits are added in).

Other increases were much higher.

The public works supervisor was proposed to increase 17.99 percent, from $52,646 to $62,122 ($80,097 after benefits). The salary was one of four proposed increases under a study conducted last year. Others included the city administrator, police chief and community development director.

Other increases included 10.17 percent to the library director ($21.04 per hour to $23.18), 11.9 percent to the senior citizens director ($11.58 to $12.96), 10.8 percent to the pool director ($12.11 per hour to $13.42) and 6.25 percent to the liquor store manager ($21.92 per hour to $23.29).

Actually, the largest proposed increase, percentage wise, was for the assistant fire chief. Martig proposed that both the fire chief and the assistant fire chief have their wages increased by $500 per year. That would put the chief at a $3,000 annual salary (20 percent increase), and the assistants would go up from $1,000 to $1,500, a 50 percent increase.

There were two categories with zero percent increases. One was the community development director, a position that is vacant and not on the current list to be filled. That salary was left in the proposed budget at $40,282 base, or $53,633 after benefits are added in.

Other positions with no increase were the mayor and council members. Salary remained at $2,864 yearly for the mayor, and $2,546 for council members.

“If the council wants to increase their salaries, it would have to be proposed before July of this year in order to take effect in 2009,” Martig said.

The increase has to be done six months before taking effect.

“I think the most significant number is the bottom line,” Mayor Rob Hammond said. That number, for the total city salaries with all benefits included, was just under $1.7 million. “Salaries are one of our largest items in the budget,” Hammond added.

The total for salaries and benefits was up 6.2 percent from the year before.

Martig pointed out some salaries for union contract employees had already been settled earlier and are included in this budget amount.

In answer to another council question, Martig said the salary increases would be retroactive to January 1 of this year.

The council did not take action on the budget at the work session, but is expected to make a decision on it at their meeting this week.

“Take it home with you and study it, and if you have questions you can contact me or bring them to the meeting,” Martig said. He also said he would be working on tweaking the final format for the next meeting.